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Susan asks…

What did humans do to cause the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone?

Right now I am looking at the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and was just wondering..
what did humans do to cause this?

Tijuana answers:

Dead zones (the non-oil-disaster kind) are created by excess nutrients being added to an ecologic system, primarily from agricultural runoff that brings with it fertilizers and other nutrient sources.

No, this probably sounds like a good thing, but it isn’t. What happens is that the algae and plankton at the surface (the producers) bloom madly, because yes, there is a sudden and large food source. Then the free-swimming animals get into it, like fish that feed on the producers. The fish population booms. Sometimes even higher animals, like sea turtles and dolphins even bloom (but not very common, due to their longer gestation periods).

Unfortunately, there is one resource in this system that is still fixed – oxygen. You used to have 100 units of oxygen and 100 units of animals breathing the oxygen. Now you have 200 or 500 or 1000 units of life breathing the oxygen, and just life sticking people in a room with no oxygen input, the oxygen eventually thins and disappeared. With no oxygen, nothing can survive. Creatures die off in huge amounts, and those that are able to move, move out of the area and into somewhere that there is still an oxygen supply. The “dead zone” is called hypoxic — no/little oxygen. Lack of oxygen and other food also causes the bottom-dwellers to die, PLUS the fact that in shallower waters, blooms of algae can actually block out enough sunlight that bottom plants the rely on photosynthesis die – and thus anything that feeds on them, too.

These dead zones can exist for months until the ecosystem balances itself again, with the right amount of life and oxygen levels back to normal.

So what did humans do? We neglected to look at the end-result of being irresponsible with our wastewater.

Sandy asks…

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Question? Why oxygen can’t enter the gulf when there is FreshWater on top?

I am currently studying the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. It says that ” The freshwater from the Mississippi River floats on top of the saltwater on the Gulf of Mexico. Due to this, the oxygen in the air cannot get into the deep water. ” I was just wondering why is it that oxygen can’t enter the Gulf of Mexico when there is Fresh Water on top of it? Thanks = )

Tijuana answers:

Good question, and it frankly makes little sense to say that just because fresh water floats on salt water, the oxygen is depleted. But, i found a good study of what’s going on here

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/products/pubs_hypox.html

Waaaaay down at the bottom, (look for “Update as of November 1, 2000″) it explains “coastal waters are swamped with nutrients, particularly nitrogen, from sewage or fertilizer. The excess nitrogen allows algae populations to explode. Dead algae in turn feed bacteria, which gobble up most of the oxygen in the water.”

So, it’s not the fresh water so much as it is the fertilizer in the fresh water.

Ruth asks…

Is a motorcycle endorsement necessary to cross the border into Mexico from the USA? Does a permit suffice?

I am planning to embark on a trip to Mexico by motorcycle in a few days. I do not have a motorcycle endorsement on my license; however, I do have a permit and US insurance. Would lacking this endorsement will prevent me from getting Mexican insurance? Would the border agents recognize the permit at all?

Tijuana answers:

Your valid drivers licence should do, you will need to get Mexico Auto Insurance and will need all of your registration and obtain a Temporary Vehicle permit to bring your moto in beyond the free zone into Mexico depends on how far in you are going. Check with Mexico Connects online

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